She calls them her Angels of Mercy and Anne Marie McKenzie has
no idea how she would have coped without breast clinical nurse specialist
nurses Lynne Stirling and Pauline McIlvain at the Beatson Oncology
"Lynne and Pauline have been so supportive. I was feeling
pretty lousy a few weeks ago and they were really fantastic."
But they are just two of the many extraordinary people who have
accompanied Anne Marie along the road on her journey with breast
"The Beatson is a lovely place. Of course, you'd rather not
be there, but the staff support you all the way," she says.
"I can phone them at any time and they have never let me down."
Anne Marie can't praise her surgeon, Mike Senior, enough. He is
the one who did the breast reconstruction after her mastectomy at
Glasgow Royal Infirmary.
"Mike is fabulous. What a nice man," Anne smiles. "Even
my husband and son couldn't rate him highly enough. He explained
everything to them.
"I had my operation on December 21 and was in hospital at
Christmas and he even came in to see how I was on Christmas Eve
when he was out shopping with his wife. He also phoned on Christmas
Day. It was a lovely touch."
There are so many other staff at the Royal she is grateful to,
including Claire South and Diane Black, the breast reconstruction
sisters at Ward 47/48.
"But from the cleaners to the auxiliaries, nurses and consultants,
they are all fantastic."
"And then there's the staff at the Victoria Infirmary, particularly
breast care nurse Rhona Garrett."
Anne Marie's cancer was picked up when she went for her first mammogram
last November at the West of Scotland Breast Screening Service in
Nelson Mandela Place in the City centre.
She was recalled to be told the mammogram had shown up a small
lump in her left breast.
"My husband was very upset when we were told and the breast
care nurse there, Maureen Graham, was so kind to me.
"Everyone has been so kind and understanding and they help
you through it. Gone are the days when they just gave you the drugs
and tell you to get on with it. They are all so very supportive."
Anne Marie, 51, a children's library assistant with South Lanarkshire
Council, lives with her husband, Thomas, 53, a businessman, and
student son, Christopher, 19, in Simshill.
From the start, she has taken a positive attitude to the cancer.
There was some doubt as to whether her right breast was also affected,
but Anne Marie isn't one to sit brooding while she waited to find
out whether she faced a mastectomy in one or both breasts.
She certainly had no intention of cancelling a shopping trip to
New York and off she went.
"I actually felt very, very positive," she says. "I
kept thinking they've found it' and the staff at Nelson Mandela
Place were fantastic."
In the event, tests showed that the right breast was unaffected
and she had her mastectomy and reconstruction on December 21.
"My first reaction was just get rid of the cancer.
"I was just glad they had caught it and I wanted to get it
done and move on."
When she went back to the Victoria Infirmary at the beginning of
January to get the results of the biopsy, she was told that although
it hadn't spread to the lymph nodes, she had pre-invasive cancer
and needed chemotherapy.
She is now on Tact 2 trials and is feeling well. She hopes her
treatment will be completed by mid July.
Anne Marie has remained positive throughout the various tests,
the operation and the chemotherapy.
"I am so glad I had the reconstruction done," she says.
"If you were to look at me right now, I look exactly as I
always did," she says happily.
Anne Marie can even find something positive to say about losing
her hair through the chemotherapy.
She laughs. "Everyone says how well I look. I have a short,
blonde bob wig and every day, it looks as if I've just had my hair
And she adds: "We are all too busy slagging off the NHS and
don't give praise where it is due. Certainly when I've been poorly,
they have supported me. I couldn't have got through this without
everyone. They encourage you and they are so helpful."
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